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Schlossman: Reading between the lines, UND may cut programs to better fund others

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - If you've heard new University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy speak in the last couple of weeks, you've surely heard his catch phrase when talking about athletics.

2255492+Brad Schlossman.jpg

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - If you've heard new University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy speak in the last couple of weeks, you've surely heard his catch phrase when talking about athletics.

He wants "championship programs."

Kennedy has discussed the value of a successful athletics program to a university, while expressing concern whether UND's most visible programs are well-enough funded to be consistently near the top.

If you read between the lines, you can get a sense of where the current process of re-examining the athletic department is headed.

Kennedy is stressing quality not quantity.

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If UND can better fund some of its most visible programs by getting rid of others, it sure seems like that is going to happen.

Kennedy has taken notice that UND sponsors 20 sports (excluding baseball, which was cut in the spring), while the Big Sky average is 16.5 and the Summit League average is 17.1. North Dakota State sponsors 16.

Kennedy has asked the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee to look at all aspects of the athletic department, including how many sports it sponsors and what leagues it plays in. He has asked the committee to deliver its findings by Nov. 1.

But Kennedy says he will make any decisions himself in the end.

Through its first three IAC meetings, no meaningful progress has been made. Most of the time has been spent educating its members on the intricacies of athletics budgets (most members are not from the athletics department).

Beginning with their next meeting on Oct. 3, the committee is expected to start delving into scenarios of cutting programs and the possibility of changing the level institutional funding for athletics.

It's hard to know whether the committee wields any power at all or if it's just for show. But what is clearly known is that Kennedy's priority is having teams that are going to win and giving them the resources they need.

Related Topics: UND SPORTS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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